The William Marshal tour continued as we went to Pembroke Castle. This was a Marshal castle–he had a lot of castles. But, it was also the birth place of Henry Tudor, known after the Battle of Bosworth as Henry VII (father to his more famous son, Henry VIII). But, back to William Marshal. The Marshal was named the Earl of Pembroke and this was an important castle for him. Again, he added many improvements to the structure. Prior to becoming Earl, he journeyed to the Holy Land (although, he did not participate in any of the crusades). While in the Holy Land, he had the chance to see the defensive improvements crusaders were making to their castles. He brought back those ideas to Wales and revamped many of the castles in his possession. One of the biggest improvements borrowed from the crusaders was the round tower. Traditional Norman towers were squares which made them more vunerable to attack.
Touring Pembroke Castle was lot of fun. It lends itself to lots exploration. There many hallways leading off in different directions and tons of nooks and defensive arrow positions to explore. I even came across medieval graffiti… What’s more fun than that? We had a limited time at the castle, but I could have spent a full exploring the various passages and towers. As noted above, the castle was in use for many years and there were many modifications made during the Tudor period. This makes it a little more difficult to envision the castle as it was under The Marshal. But, it also added a layer of history to explore with the kids, which was great! The castle is built into the side of a cliff and under the castle is a natural cave. Many people thought the cave was a former dungeon. This is NOT the case. It was used as a food and beverage storage area. You see the cave from a walking path outside the castle and access the interior of the cave from inside the castle itself. In case you don’t know, Cinco is the more cautious of the two kids. He was less than thrilled to go into the cave. But, with a little sweet talking, I managed to get him down there! I also got him to climb to the top of the Great Tower. It wasn’t actually, that high. However the stairs seemed rather treacherous! He did a great job at Pembroke Castle overcoming his fears! Hip-hip-hooray! Next to the castle was a brass rubbing center. Sadly, it was closed when were at the castle. However, a very sweet woman in the gift shop allowed us to pop in and purchase a few brass rubbing kits to take home. (I’ll cover our brass rubbing experience in a later mom camp blog, don’t worry!) Then it was time for our drive up the Welsh coast. Again, its really not that many miles up the coast, but it takes forever: slow and rural. So rural in fact we had a nice little run-in with some sheep! No, they were not in the middle of the road, but I wouldn’t have been surprised me. There was lot construction along the road and we were stopped for quite sometime waiting in traffic. A dead stop. I had my window down to enjoy some of the fresh air and Cinco was in the back of the car whining. He let out a very cranky nasally, “Mom…” and not two seconds later we heard a sheep answer back! No joke! So I started making braying (I know you use the term bray for horses but this sheep really made a noise more like a bray) noises and the sheep kept answering back. Sadly, we couldn’t see the sheep because he/she was behind a large hedge. I quickly whipped out the camera phone and started filming the experience. I mean, who would believe that?
We decided to stop along the Welsh coast for a little picnic. The beach was lovely and again, the weather co-operated! We played along the beach for awhile and the kids made a few bench-henge structures!!